February 2, 2022

Integrated Facility Management vs. Facility Management – What’s The Difference?

No matter the industry, most businesses require facilities management in some form. Although many are familiar with Facility Management (FM), the term Integrated Facility Management (IFM) doesn’t seem to harbour the same familiarity. For many, they struggle to see the differences between the two or have a hard time justifying why one can be better than the other. So, what’s the real difference?

Let’s define FM and IFM and break down the components that differentiate these service models.

What is Facility Management (FM)?

FM is the individual tools and services that support the functionality, safety, and sustainability of buildings, grounds, infrastructure, and real estate. Some of these activities include the maintenance of interiors, grounds, assets and building systems to ensure they operate efficiently and are reliable and safe.

What is Integrated Facility Management (IFM)?

In a nutshell, the IFM approach consolidates all the FM efforts under one united team – a team that is integrated and performs the work collaboratively – as opposed to managing multiple vendors and contractors, you have one dedicated facility partner.

Learn More about IFM

What is Integrated Facility Management?

With both FM and IFM services, the goal remains the same – to maintain and enhance built environments – but one method is proven to be more effective and more strategic than the other. How so?

A true IFM approach shifts management from focusing on just hours and resources to focusing on performance, or outcome-based management. This strategic approach allows facility owners to better understand total cost of ownership, risk management, and process improvement – which translates to improved performance and effective management.

Let’s take a deeper dive into the IFM approach, breaking down the components and immediate benefits.

Breaking Down the Integrated Approach

The list of services that fall under facility management is long and most companies sub-contract services to multiple vendors. This siloed approach is time-consuming and can often take clients away from focusing on their core business responsibilities. Managing multiple vendors and gathering facility insights from a dozen of different sources is inefficient, less organized, and difficult to control.

What’s the idea behind IFM? Outsourcing all the FM activities to one team of experts to perform, consolidates and simplifies, closing gaps and giving clients greater cost control. IFM is a proven way for streamlined and efficient work, and task management. The concept results in fewer contracts, teams, and resources to juggle, as well as a bird’s-eye view of all management-related tasks. This holistic view of all the moving parts means you can make more informed decisions at every level, resulting in a variety of operational cost-saving opportunities. Areas where you’re overspending, being wasteful or inefficient, or gaps in budgeting are easy to identify and quicker to rectify.

Be Sure It’s Really IFM

IFM is not to be confused with other aggregated concepts that could masquerade as an integrated service model, but really aren’t. These can include bundled services or the Real Estate Aggregation Model (REAM). A traditional bundled services contract would cover only the execution of different tasks from an operational level, whereas the IFM approach focuses on the tactical and strategic level, using integration and real data to drive more efficient operations.

The REAM approach typically has one point of contact for the client, such as a property manager, but all services are handled as a separate work package into single service lines that are sub-contracted to several vendors, usually with a markup. The IFM approach gains through economy of scope, something you don’t receive under the REAM. Because all the work is being self-performed in an IFM model, the service provider is in a better position to deliver economies of scope because they have greater oversight of all the moving parts.

Facility Management Service Models

With IFM, you have a true single point of contact for all FM needs, which helps to support the efficient coordination and accurate monitoring of overall service performance delivery. The building owner can also expect greater accountability and responsiveness from the integrated facility management company if issues arise because they are the direct source for all the services being performed.

The Right Solution for Your Facility

How can you determine what the best solution is for you? Here are some criteria questions to consider when you’re ready to choose the right solution for your needs.

  • Is IFM right for you? The answer is yes if you:
    • Are a facility with many employees and multiple locations
    • Desire a holistic approach to FM services
    • Are looking to reduce total cost of ownership over the lifecycle of your assets
    • Prefer a simplified agreement with one supplier
    • Wish to optimize the workplace with innovative FM solutions
    • Have performance, KPIs and development targets you want to reach
  • Is a single service FM approach right for you? The answer is yes if you:
    • Have a specific need for one service
    • Are looking for a limited number of ad-hoc FM services
    • Prefer a smaller volume of individually purchased services instead of a comprehensive solution

So, why IFM? Make the Right Choice

Would you use several different systems to complete an individual task? Why should it be any different for your facility? A typical IFM customer has the following needs:

  • A strong need to improve the workplace environment
  • A desire to simplify contract and vendor management
  • A want to monitor assets, performance, and KPI’s  
  • A desire to measure, manage, and plan for the performance of a building and its assets efficiently and sustainably
  • A need to be compliant with building laws and regulations
  • A want to meet financial performance goals

If any of these needs align with what you want for your facility – the right choice is clear – it’s IFM.

Industries are transforming from using a predominantly single FM outsourcing model to an integrated services model that meets all their facility needs. With one, integrated approach, you improve overall customer experience, optimize how your space is used, and ultimately, lower the total cost of ownership.

The real benefits of an integrated facility management approach quickly and repeatedly make themselves apparent. If you’re ready to benefit from more value, efficiency, and simplicity, the IFM approach is right for you.